Palestinian-Israeli conflict: A return to the two-state solution critical

Numerous United Nations resolutions have been adopted to resolve the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine.

Notably, Resolution 181 aims to establish two states in historical Palestine, while Resolution 242 calls for Israel to withdraw from the lands it occupied in 1967 (which include the West Bank and Gaza), and allow for the return of refugees to their homes.

These are critical steps toward achieving a peaceful resolution to the long-standing conflict in the region.

The current situation can be summarised as follows: 85 per cent of the Israeli separation wall is located on Palestinian land in the West Bank, 650 Israeli checkpoints have been constructed in the West Bank, and there are 144 Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, with a total of 805,000 Jewish settlers. This has been done in total disregard for international community resolutions – a monumental slap in the face to the said resolutions.

Since the beginning of 2023, there have been political changes in Israeli society. Israel’s current  prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, belongs to the extreme right and is known for his support for building more settlements. This coincided with the hostile practices of Jewish extremists, supported by the Israeli government. These practices included Jews entering the Al-Aqsa Mosque and preventing Muslims from praying there. This led to confrontations that resulted in the deaths of 209 Palestinian people, including 38 children, since the beginning of the year. Unfortunately, there has been no accountability for these tragic events.

The aforementioned reasons led to Hamas’ latest attacks on the settlements surrounding Gaza and some nearby military bases on Oct 7, 2023. This attack triggered an intense and indiscriminate Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip, resulting in hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries, mostly among civilians. The blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza, which goes against international law and human rights, has made the situation worse. This blockade is in preparation for an expected ground invasion of the Strip, which could result in greater humanitarian disasters and implications.

The United States and Israeli officials are currently exploring options to provide safe passage for the civilians of Gaza, which is home to 2.3 million people, to Egypt. However, this raises concerns about the past plans of Israel and the US to establish the state of Palestine on the land of Sinai as a solution to the issue. This approach is considered a ‘cover-up’ to the problem, rather than a viable solution. It is not acceptable for Israel to try to solve its problems at the expense of the national security of neighboring countries, most notably, Egypt. Cairo considers this a ‘red line’, it is not even up for discussion.

As an alternative, Israel is pushing for the relocation of over a million people from the northern, to the southern portions of the Gaza Strip, to enable it to carry out a full-scale ground assault against Hamas, adopting a “scorched-earth policy” of eradicating everything on Earth. The operation cannot be mounted in the presence of such a large population in a densely-packed area.

The destruction of all necessities of life, the spread of epidemics and diseases, the increase in the number of Palestinian refugees – which has reached 5.6 million since 1948 – as well as the continuation of the cycle of retaliation that will occur are some implications that are anticipated. Human suffering as a result of the extreme pressure on the remaining infrastructure in the southern Gaza Strip is also to be expected.

The US, as the major power supporting Israel in its war, in coordination with some regional countries, is currently seeking to establish safe zones for civilians, especially after continuous international pressure and the rejection by regional Arab countries of the displacement process of Palestinians outside the borders. This, amid renewed calls to not abort the Palestinian cause in favour of Israel.

A practical solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in activating the two-state solution, which has been delayed as a result of Israeli procrastination and unjustified support from major powers. The desired State of Palestine on the 1967 borders, which includes the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, with East Jerusalem as its capital, is a radical solution to the existing conflict that will continue unless a Palestinian state is established.

This is especially so when the legitimacy of this Palestinian state is supported by UN resolutions that have not yet been implemented – Resolution 181, which asserts for the division of Palestine into two states; Resolution 242, which calls for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, Gaza Strip, and East Jerusalem; and Resolution 1397, which calls for an end to the Israeli occupation, and the establishment of the State of Palestine.

The current events should serve as a wake-up call for the international community to effect radical and rapid solutions before the Middle East plunges further into a cauldron of fire, engulfing the region and the rest of the world.

These conflicts cannot be considered simply regional in scope due to the support of some major powers for Israel, and the opposition of other major powers to what is happening in the Occupied Territories.

Making it all the more urgent is the fact that some regional powers are about to engage directly in the conflict. As such, it would be wise for the international community to act, post-haste.

Brigadier General Hesham Afifi Abdelaal Afifi is a senior officer in the Egyptian Army and is currently a Course Member at the National Resilience College, PUSPAHANAS  Putrajaya.

The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of Twentytwo13.